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Dining news Tacoma dining

Joeseppi’s has big makeover plans, including adding live music (when allowed)

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When the state order came in November requiring restaurant dining rooms to close, some restaurants started hatching plans to turn what most definitely is a negative situation into something transformative.

What better time to rip up the floor plan, build a new bar and add a stage and live music space?

All that’s about to happen at Joeseppi’s, the Westgate Italian restaurant known for its 200-person dining room, big plates of Italian-American classics, and of course, that gracious host that everybody knows – Joe Stortini. 

Stortini founded Joeseppi’s in Tacoma’s Westgate neighborhood in 2005, but back up 15 years before that to when he owned Mama Stortini’s before selling that restaurant.

The facelift at Joeseppi’s already is underway and here are details shared by a few faces Joeseppi’s regulars will start seeing more of at the restaurant – general manager Jim Aitkins and managing partners Kathy and Mike Dance. 

They’ll work alongside Stortini to give the space a facelift. The menu also will change a bit,  but it’s not an overhaul, just an update. 

It’s important to note that the restaurant will continue to serve take-out while all this work is completed. In fact, outdoor dining is on the way to the restaurant, so watch the restaurant’s social media for more information. “The ample covered sidewalk space just outside Joeseppi’s will soon be converted – heated, enclosed – but with plenty of air flow to keep everyone safe,” the restaurant announced Thursday on its Facebook page. (Looking for more outdoor dining options? Find 60+ more restaurants with outdoor dining in this story).

Here are details of what the Joeseppi’s remodel will include: 

THE DELI SPACE

Diners grabbing take-out might already have noticed this change. “When they walk in, they already can see what was the deli has been transformed into the dining room. The deli is gone,” he said. “In the future, when you walk to the left back toward the bar, there’s no more dining back there.”

THE BAR AREA

“All interior walls associated with the bar, and separate the bar from general dining, are going to be gone. The physical edifice of the bar where you can walk up and ask for a beer, that’s going to be off to the right a bit where the dining area continues toward the back, that’s where the bar will be. It will be abutted up against the wall to the banquet room, so the bar will be expansive and open.” 

DECOR SHIFT

Expect a bit of a decor shift with some new design elements that will remind travelers of Italy, siad Aitkins. “You’ll see bricks, you’ll see stones and rock walls, you’ll also see plaster, archways and more,” he said. 

TACOMA’S NEWEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE WILL EMERGE 

A 16-feet-long stage already has been constructed where live music will be regularly hosted. “Joeseppi’s will be a go-to place regionally because it’s going to be such a fun place to come,” said Aitkins. “The stage is on the back wall all the way back, so if you were to turn to your left as you walk in toward the kitchen, you can go straight back into the bar and then past the bar itself on your right and then to the stage.” 

There will be a few different seating arrangements surrounding that stage. There will be table seating, plus a lounge-style area.  “We’re keeping the fireplace and there will be comfortable chairs at the fireplace. We’re going to have a table with a chess set on it and a couple of stools,” said Aitkins. “You can come in the afternoon and have a few appetizers and have a few games of chess with your friends.” 

Up to about 150 people can fit in that live music area – when live music is allowed again, it’s currently restricted under state pandemic regulations. Joeseppi’s live music venue will fill a vast need in the region for a live music space, especially one that can seat up to 150.

Live music venues have been struggling and closing for many years in the area, including the recent closure of Louie G’s. What the music landscape might look like after the pandemic restrictions are lifted, is anybody’s guess, but Joeseppi’s will be well positioned with its defined concept and new space to nab a large audience of live music seekers. 

As for the types of acts that will be booked, the work for that is underway now, but booking artists is compounded right now because of the uncertainty of the return of the live performance timeline. 

“It’s hard for us to make any solid plans,” said Aitkins. They have tentatively booked some acts, but they’ll know more about what the schedule will look like as pandemic restrictions are lifted. What is known, though, is that Joeseppi’s will be home to a live music venue and that “music will be hosted here on a regular basis.”

JOESEPPI’S

Where: 2207 N. Pearl St, Tacoma

Info: 253-761-5555; https://www.joeseppisitalian.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joeseppisrestaurant